Paris, Berlin At the end of the NATO summit in London, it was again US President Donald Trump who dominated the meeting of the 29 heads of state. A video had appeared. It showed Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, his Dutch counterpart Mark Rutte and French President Emmanuel Macron in a merry conversation. Allegedly – the sound is bad – they blaspheme about Trump and his delay to dinner with the Queen.
As journalists approach Trump on Wednesday in a joint press conference with Angela Merkel (CDU) on the video, he insulted Trudeau as "insidious" – and leaves the summit prematurely. His final press conference is canceled. The heads of government learn via Twitter, that Trump has heard enough and sees no further need for discussion,
Merkel had once again criticized the fact that Germany was still far from NATO's target of spending two percent of the gross domestic product on defense. The criticism fell this time, however, mild for Trump conditions. Germany is "a bit under the border," said the US president.
Trump's rage this time was not directed against Merkel, but against Macron: In the run-up to the London summit, he had called NATO "brain dead" and questioned the need for assistance in the Alliance. Trigger for Macron's anger had been the invasion of Turkey into northern Syria after the hasty withdrawal of US troops.
Trump, who had called NATO "obsolete" two years ago, now defended the alliance in a joint appearance with Macron. Macron, however, criticized NATO, and especially the US and Turkey: "We do not have the same definition of terrorism around the table," Macron said.
The Turks fought against those who "fought with us" against the terrorist militia IS. He meant the Kurdish YPG militia in northern Syria. Until the withdrawal of their troops, the US had supported them. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan considers the YPG to be the military arm of the terrorist PKK. He temporarily threatened to block all summit decisions if NATO in the summit declaration did not call the YPG a terrorist organization.
Topic is spared northern Syria
Then it did not happen: the "London Declaration" does not mention the conflict over northern Syria, and Erdogan did not fulfill his threat; The agreed strengthening of troops in the Baltic States can take place. At a meeting with Merkel, Macron and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday afternoon, Erdogan won for further talks on northern Syria. Trump also spoke with him on the edge of the summit.
Merkel already booked this appointment for further talks of the three Europeans with Erdogan in February next as a success. "It was a good and meaningful meeting, but it can only be the beginning of a longer discussion process," said the Chancellor. It was about hearing from Erdogan what he wanted to achieve in Syria in the long term. The focus of further talks must now be to involve the UN human rights organization UNHCR in the event of a voluntary return of Syrian refugees to the area controlled by Turkey and Russia.
So much "strategic patience" Macron could not afford. "We have not received the desired clarifications, the ambiguities have not been lifted," said the French president after the four-round. It remains "disagreements, we do not make the same political choice, but it is necessary to go ahead," he pointed out the persistent dissent.
Of his "brain death" criticism, the French President in London did not return anything. "Some of my explanations shook people up somewhat, but I stand by them," he said, reiterating that a debate over the distribution of costs in NATO was not enough. As long as the Alliance does not resolve its internal contradictions and does not clarify what its strategy is, it will be difficult to send soldiers into action.
Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (SPD) can count on this issue a success: his suggestion that should advise on the strategic political orientation of the Alliance, a panel of experts headed by Stoltenberg, is also in the London Declaration.
Merkel and Trump did not want to know about the dispute at their joint press conference at the Watford property near London. "The signal was one of the common ground, so I am very satisfied," said the Chancellor. And Trump praised the sharply rising military budgets of the European NATO states: "This is unprecedented and will make NATO stronger."
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg was relieved that the summit was quorate despite all the quarrels. The mutual assistance obligation of the alliance partners stand rock solid, said Stoltenberg. In fact, the NATO states once again solemnly reaffirmed the assistance clause in Article 5 of the founding treaty in the "London Declaration".
China as a possible source of threats
For the first time this expressly refers to possible dangers of the rise of the military power China. "We find that China's growing influence and its international policies offer both opportunities and challenges that we must work together as an alliance," the statement says. NATO also has a minimum requirement when it comes to setting up the new 5G mobile networks: The networks must be "safe and resilient" against hacker attacks.
Britain's PM Johnson said his country is considering allowing Chinese telecommunications supplier Huawei to build 5G networks. In Germany, a dispute has been raging for months in the Grand Coalition between the security politicians, who want to exclude Huawei, and the economic politicians, who want to rely on technical controls.
With the rather soft formulation in the "London Declaration", the Europeans prevailed. The US now sees China as its main opponent, which should be kept in check. For NATO, however, this is still Russia: The alliance relies on its own nuclear deterrent, but also offers a dialogue with Russia.
However, disagreement among the partners prevails here as well: while Merkel wants the US and Russia to talk about the dismantling of the nuclear arsenal, Macron demanded that Europeans and China be included in the talks with Russia. Above all, however, the Eastern Europeans reject this: Disarmament must speak to the partner with the most deterrent nuclear arsenal with Russia, that these are the US – and not the Europeans, according to Poland and the Baltic States.
More: NATO finds the right dose of deterrence and proximity to China.
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